Little Bighorn conflict / THU 11-28-13 / Horror film director Alexandre / Canadian-born comedian once featured on cover of Time / Mother of Nike in myth / Anti-apartheid activist Steve / Joe Louis to fans /

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Constructor: Loren Muse Smith and Jeff Chen

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: "SNAKES ON A PLANE" (61A: Cult classic whose title is depicted four times in this puzzle) — ASP appears on top of different kinds of PLANEs in the grid. What kinds of planes? Well, a BOMBER, a GLIDER, and a JET (also, the PLANE of the theme answer):

Theme answers:
  • 15A: Joe Louis, to fans (THE BROWN BOMBER)
  • 34A: One interested in current affairs? (HANG GLIDER)
  • 42A: Gang Green member (NEW YORK JET)
Word of the Day: Alexandre AJA (40D: Horror film director Alexandre ___) —
Alexandre Aja (born 7 August 1977) is a French film director who rose to international stardom for his 2003 horror filmHaute Tension (known as High Tension in the US, and known as Switchblade Romance in the UK). He has also directed the horror films The Hills Have Eyes (2006), Mirrors (2008) and Piranha 3D (2010). (wikipedia)
• • •

Mixed feelings here, though this is definitely a step up from T and W. The theme type is one that is invisible until the end, so the feel when solving is kind of blah. Straightforward (except that clue on HANG GLIDER, which is clever, but I hate when just one theme answer has a "?" clue—all or none; feels weird otherwise). There's basically no theme, not even an appearance of one, until the revealer. When this is the case, the reveal has to be great. Today, it's OK. Maybe good. Different snakes would've been great. Just ASP = less so. Fact that ASP is itself crosswordese doesn't help me love it. But I will say that this is a cute use of the movie title. "Cult classic" is a massive stretch. I've never heard it called that, and do not believe that anyone ever actually still watches this film. But it is a movie with some fame and some campy currency, so it's certainly revealer-worthy (fun fact: my friend Christa Faust wrote the novelization of "SNAKES ON A PLANE").

[PROFANITY ALERT—if easily offended, just don't press "Play"]

There's still far too much crud in the fill. This is largely by design—not that the plan was to glut the grid with crosswordese, just that when you make a grid like this, with such a preponderance of 3-to-5-letter stuff, and when you try so desperately to Scrabble up your grid, well, there will be blood. Won't list it all, but the ISPS / RIAA / IRR is ugly and AMS / ASSNS isn't making any friends either, and for this we had to (again) have cheater squares?* You probably noticed that the grid is a weird shape: 14x16 (on account of the revealer's length). About this, I have no opinion.

Found the puzzle very hard. At times, it felt like the puzzle was trying too hard to make things tough. You've got a Tue-Wed.-looking grid, and you're having to Thursday it up. So solvers have to struggle to get rather unremarkable results. Not a satisfying feeling. AJA is crosswordese. Cluing it via some horror director doesn't change that. Whole western part of the grid was brutal to me, largely because both CALYX and SIOUX WAR were big ???s. Had CAL- and S-OU--A-. I own an iPhone and SYNC didn't click for me. SPAWN could've been SCION. Or a host of other things. Rough. SIOUX WAR is a lovely answer, though. I wouldn't call anything else "lovely," but neither would I call the fill, in the main, any worse than average. In fact, average is about right. Xs are nice, but the ESPY EEW ENYA stuff kind of negates whatever glory is gained by those Xs.

[Again, PROFANITY ALERT—avoid "Play," avoid complaining]

Gotta run. Expecting my friend and fellow (much superior) speed-solver Katie Hamill and her daughter *any* second now. They have had a day-long bus odyssey/ordeal, so I have to prepare the bourbon.
    Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

    *black squares that do not add to word count but make puzzle (often much) easier to fill (here, the black square next to the "8" square and before the "70" square)


    jae 12:02 AM  

    Ok. First of all I'm not just saying this because....well you know... I loved this puzzle.  It was great a ha moment when I got the theme.  Made me laugh.  Dare I say  BEQesque?   I got the plane part early, which helped with the solve. Also, this seemed about right for a Thurs., so medium for me. 

    Nice pair of pirate clues.

    Interesting to see something other than a Steely Dan clue for AJA which was a WOE as clued. 

    I know there are nits to pick, but this is the kind of clever stuff that has me looking forward to doing the NYT puzzle every day, even though some days are better than others.

    Thanks Loren and Jeff!

    Anonymous 12:05 AM  

    By "prepare" you mean pre-drink, no?

    Anonymous 12:07 AM  

    Really enjoyed this one. Wishing the NYT XWord community a wonderful Thanksgiving.

    Anonymous 12:07 AM  

    If the puzzle had MF atop ASP atop the PLANE, then it would have been worty.

    dmw 12:20 AM  

    Just back from the wild and catching up starting with Monday. Who was that taking Rex's place? Rex would never be so over-the-moon about a puzzle (with just one little nit-pik about sandpit).

    Mike in DC (although not for Thanksgiving) 12:21 AM  

    I didn't figure out the theme until I was finished, but I enjoyed the solve (and I like to think that has nothing to do with the fact that it was on the easy side for me).

    Thanks, Loren and Jeff.

    George Barany 12:25 AM  

    What a thrill to see this collaboration from two of my cyberfriends. Congratulations Loren and Jeff!

    Befitting today's unique confluence, some of us have collaborated on Gobble Tov! which we hope you enjoy. And gratitude to @Rex for establishing this forum which has created a wonderful community to many with common cruciverbal interests.

    August West 1:25 AM  

    Congratulations on your debut, Loren! What a nice thing to be thankful for, at your family table later today.

    Thought I was going to hate it as I worked through those top two rows, but things improved considerably from THEBROWNBOMBER on the EEWy SW. Gotta admit, that's the same type of "small corner" that sent Rex to DEFCON 1 yesterday. There is, however, much more to commend this puzzle than there is to tear it down.

    This solved like a very easy (5:04) themeless for me until I got to the reveal, as the BOMBER, HANGGLIDER and JET in issue were clued to refer to individuals, and the ASPS were also well hidden. Nice post-finish aha smile, but the "theme" didn't aid the solve at all. NTTAWWT; merely an observation.

    Loved the SIOUXWAR/CALYX cross, and LOWMAN (and its clue), all of which facilitated seeing YOHOHO as the cross-reference to MATEY. Also enjoyed SEMINARY, ALAMOS, SPAWN (what a great word!), and the clue for HANGGLIDER, which was awesome. Most of all, though, I dug seeing Steve BIKO.

    Nice job, youse two!

    Happy Thanksgiving to you, yours, and all here at this unique li'l corner of the interwebs.

    Alamos Calyx Mixins 1:28 AM  

    YAY LOREN AND JEFF!!!!!!!!!

    Seems what? a bit mean-spirited? Withholding? not to mention that it is not only Loren's NYT debut, considering she got her start and everything else on this blog!!!
    (Had sorta been hoping it would be OUR collaboration accepted way back when, as yet unpublished, but this is quite spectacular!!!)

    Anyway, loved it! SO funny!

    I sensed something about ASP, having written in HASP, CLASP, RASP
    so I thought it might be hidden SNAKESinthegrass...
    But when I got to the reveal and went back and saw the four PLANES, I was blown away!!!!

    Loved the Xs so much, I put in THE BROnxBOMBER for awhile!
    But the opposite for CAL-la, thinking CALLA as in CALLAlillies (insert Kate Hepburn "The Calla Lillies are in bloom")

    (WHOA, someone on the TV in the background just said, "I'm going to go home and watch Hepburn/Tracy movies" as I was typing her name...FREAKY!!! Not even a show I watch!)

    Needed theme to get the last letter bec it was a very sporty puzzle
    (PELE, HANA, the aforementioned BROWNBOMBER, INOT which I could not parse till well afterwards) and so I didn't know if it was a MET, NET, or JET...

    and THAT my friends is what a theme should do...
    Amuse, surprise, unify and help solve!!!
    check check check check

    Glad BIKO is not forgotten...
    and I loved LOWMAN on a totem pole. Plus KLAXONS!!!
    Didn't know STYX was a character not just the river...fabulous!
    TWO -YX answers!!! Loren would like that...

    SAPPORO has the anagram of ASP in it and ESPY, SPRY and ISPS is so close! Lightly echoed the theme.

    SO much to ADORE about this puzzle!!! BRAVO!

    August West 1:43 AM  

    Loved KLAXONS, too, imagining Loren and Jeff giggling as they "Ah-OO-gahed" one another back and forth on settling upon the clue. I hope my reverie is correct, and Ah-OO-gah doesn't really belong to Will.

    Anoa Bob 1:43 AM  

    Super scrabbly grid which was nice but a lot of stuff I didn't know---yeah, that's on me. Never seen the flick so didn't know the snakes on the plane were ASPs so I thought the theme was BOMBER PLANE, HANG GLIDER PLANE & JET PLANE. Doh!

    SIOUX WAR threw me. Does a single "conflict" constitute a WAR? And aren't WARs usually designated as being between two or more parties? I trust someone will edify me on this (be gentle, please).

    If an ORIBI and an anoa ever locked horns, I wonder who would win out.

    I'm doing the veggies for today's feast. It's gonna be steamed broccoli, carrots and yellow SQUASH, with lots of onion, garlic and my go to seasoning, Mrs. Dash.

    SEE YA!

    Anonymous 1:45 AM  

    Very enjoyable. Got both 27d (MNO) and 40d AJA easily from the crosses, but --- would someone be kind enough to explain 27d?


    August West 2:12 AM  

    MNO are under the number 6 on your telephone keypad.

    Anonymous 2:26 AM  

    Can I claim a "senior moment"? Or longer? Never got near the 'phone 6!


    acme 2:38 AM  

    double senior moment as it's 26D!

    chefwen 2:42 AM  

    Loved it before I even got started. Knowing Loren as well as we all do, I just knew it would be enjoyable, and Jeff Chen couldn't be a better mentor. Got the plane thing early on was a help, but I am embarrassed to say that I never caught onto the ASP thing before coming here. Oh Well, I had fun. Thanks Loren and Jeff.

    Happy Thanksgiving to all my Cyber friends.

    Benko 2:47 AM  

    I liked this puzzle and am surprised it is LMS's debut.
    I also liked BIKO and am surprised that @Rex didn't post Peter Gabriel's song about Biko on his page.
    Also really liked "Snakes On a Plane" as the revealer; if, as Rex says, it isn't yet a true cult classic, I feel sure that it will be regarded as such one day.
    Can't get the IPad app to accept my solution. I've gone over the grid like ten or fifteen times and still can't catch the typo. Probably a night out of drinking fine beer, wine, and framboise did it.

    Steve J 2:47 AM  

    First off: Congrats to Loren on her debut!

    Secondly: Happy Thanksgiving to everyone (including the handful outside the US; find some turkey and join in).

    This felt entirely like a Wednesday puzzle to me (including my solving time), other than some of the cluing. I have nothing to go on other than gut feel, but it felt to me in several spots like the clues had been edited to be more Thursday-ish; I suspect some of the fun was probably sucked out as a result (and I know that was the case for at least one clue, which is mentioned over at Xwordinfo: Loren's original clue for SAPPORO - Sendai Suds - is much better than the dry clue Will put in).

    I halfway picked up on the theme early, noting the planes pretty quickly (it helped that I got the reveler in the first third to half of my filled-in grid). However, I didn't notice the snakes. Rather, I looked for them in the answers, didn't see them, and found myself very perplexed. Didn't realize that the ASPs were literally on top of the plane-based answers. Would have been much nicer had I realized it while I was doing the puzzle, but it was still a nice aha.

    Agreed that it would have bumped things up a couple notches to have more types of snakes than just an ASP.

    Really liked the clue for LOW MAN, and I loved both KLAXON and its fabulous clue.

    That said, my impression was that the fill was a little too self-consciously scrabbly in spots, and the short fill - which is at an unavoidably high volume due to the grid geometry - was downright painful in spots. Good to see from Loren and Jeff's notes over at Xwordinfo that they're aware of that, but that didn't make filling it in any less pleasant. Like @August West, the first two rows had me prepared to be quite cranky with this puzzle, but it recovered quite well overall. The good stuff definitely outweighed the less-good stuff for me, although it was a closer fight than I would hope. But what's important is the good side won.

    I suspect there will be a lot of DNFs at BIKO/ORIBI. The only reason I remembered BIKO was because the Peter Gabriel song started playing in my head when I read the clue.

    Nice debut, and a nice step above the last couple days.

    Benko 2:50 AM  

    Also, speaking of EEW...
    My wife and I couldn't believe that EW isn't acceptable in Scrabble, likewise BO and GI "Donatello from TMNT wielded a BO and wore a GI." So we wrote them into our home rules.

    Benko 3:03 AM  

    OH MAN...Three posts already,
    Stupid me. I got a DNF! I insisted on NEWYORKMET rather than NEWYORKJET and just couldn't see my error. You got me, Loren!

    acme 4:21 AM  

    BO is good in Scrabble...But it has nothing to do with Body Odor or offensive clues regarding the prez.
    (and in England you CAN use GI...but generally, the rules is, if it has periods, it's a no-no.)

    Jim Walker 4:49 AM  

    What fun. Congratulations Loren. Many more I hope. Finished the puzzle but never saw the ASPS until I got here. I thought the fill was fine. Liked seeing BIKO. KLAXON and SPAWN are neat words. Thanks to Jeff as well.

    John Child 6:20 AM  

    Great fun for T-Day, though a DNF for me due to INTransitive verbs and resulting crosses in error. There are more Jumble and anagram ASPS too!

    I conflated Harrison Ford ans Samuel Jackson: see

    Thanks LMS!

    r.alphbunker 6:35 AM  

    Hmmm. A Halloween puzzle showing up on Thankgiving :-)

    Congratulations Loren. Your perseverance paid off. I too took Jeff up on his offer to collaborate but he didn't think my theme would work and I didn't try again.

    Did anybody else notice the other ASP curled up in 1A (PAS)? That surely must have been deliberate!

    The letters with the highest frequency were A (28), S(23) and E(18) giving
    That sure looks like a hiss followed by screams.

    I was rewarded for finding the theme before checking if the puzzle was correct. I had NEWYORKsET/AsA but when I got the theme I realized the s had to be a J.

    r.alphbunker 6:48 AM  

    I too thought of BEQ when I realized what the theme was. One such puzzle had the title Moving on up.

    Loren Muse Smith 7:04 AM  

    Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! This is certainly a Thanksgiving theme for me, as we always have roasted ASP with SOYA stuffing every year.

    Hey – thanks for all your kind words. I always want to run and hide under the bed when my puzzle runs. All three times. Right.

    Ok. Jeff asked me to solve this and time myself for an informal experiment. I agree – it's tough! I had forgotten most of the fill, so those crosses – ORIBI/BIKO, SAHL/IPANA were hard for me, too.

    I'm personally responsible (most likely) for the truly inspired abbreviation plurals: ISPS, ERS, ETAS, ASSNS, and AMS. I tried my darndest to make PRE, NAACP, AMEX, MNO, and IRR plural, too, but just couldn't deliver.

    You have Jeff to thank for the YO HO HO and MATEY. I tried to make those plural, too.

    I didn't remember that we had SPAWN and PAWN. Hmm. "Oh look, our chess set seems to have SPAWNed a PAWN overnight." Dayum. (Mornin', @M&A)

    The 50D/64A cross was originally "ames/pyres," but I convinced Jeff to scrabble %$#$%. Just kidding. (Hey, Rex - I think I'm catching on to the concept now!)

    We never considered/questioned having different kinds of SNAKES ABOVE the PLANES, but that could have been fun. (If anyone is interested in collaborating, I do have a grid- very different idea from this- with more than one kind of SNAKE hidden, and I'm at a loss as to how to clue the reveal and whether or not to use circles.)

    SPRY. Hey, @nanpilla! (She and I agree that this is an adjective attributed primarily to older women. Someone called her that once. So far I've dodged it. But an inmate student once said to me after I had given a talk on etiquette (I swear) to about 300 inmates, "You know, everyone was respectful because you're elder. . ." and he stopped himself. I said, "Were. You. About. To. Say. 'Elderly'???" He tried to back-pedal, but, c'mon – what else could it have been? "Because you're elderberryish?" SPRY would have been better. I picture SPRY women darting around energetically.

    Jeff has his informal experiment about constructors and solving time. I have one, too. I've pointed out before, I think, that lots of dialects, mine included, "drop the g" in words like eating and washing. (There's no g-dropping actually, but that's beside the point.) But there are two words that no one does this on: everything and anything. So here's my question – do any of you say human BEIN' rather than BEING? I don't think I do.

    Enjoy your turkey. I, too, am thankful for Rex, this blog, and all the remarkably clever friends I've made here. Plus, as Andrea said, it's where I (and countless others) tried our hand at constructing. (And Andrea – here's hoping our puzzle runs soon!)

    Glimmerglass 7:30 AM  

    Good puz, L & J. Happy Turkey Day, all.

    chefbea 7:51 AM  

    Congrats Loren on your debut!!! Great puzzle. Never saw the asps above the planes until I came here.
    Wanted culinary at 41 down…
    Happy Thanksgivingaka to all. Don't over eat!!!

    evil doug 8:22 AM  


    Mohair Sam 8:52 AM  

    Congrats @Loren on an awesome debut.

    Loved the theme and didn't get it until we finished and stared at the grid for a few minutes. Almost got naticked at BIKO/ORIBI, but remembered the beast vaguely and guessed right.

    Classic clues for HANGGLIDER and YOHOHO MATEY. Nice memory jog on IPANA - didn't Bucky Beaver hawk that? Brusha, brusha, brusha . . . . .

    @Steve J - I, for one, am thrilled that Will changed the SAPPORO clue.

    Again, great debut Loren. Congrats - and keep 'em comin'

    Tita 8:59 AM  

    I loved, loved , loved it. Does being friends wtih the constructor bias me? You betcha - it woulda gotten a mere 2 "loved"s had I not know her, and her love of grammer (4D), anagrams (PAS and SAPPORO)...etc., etc...

    Med-Challenging for me too.
    I DNFd with an Irr verb and THE B-tOWN BOMBER, and the nIAA.

    Spelling cLOXONS wrong (great word indeed!), and not knowing Gang Green in spite of being a NYer, made that hard, though I finally figured that part out.

    Once I got the reveal, it definitely helped withthe solve.
    I could turn deIRES into ASPIRES.

    I too thought immediately of Nan at 13D!) To your story, my dear departed French expat friend used to say "olderly".

    Ha ha, @r.alph - the hissing and screaming - love it!

    @OFL - really? Not a nod to the nicest crosswordverbalist on the planet? Not to mention clever and talented?

    Happy Thanksgiving to all!

    FearlessKim 8:59 AM  

    Congratulations, Loren, on your NYT debut! Your posts are so vivid, and your voice so clear and authentic, that it feels like we know you, so seeing your name in the by-line this morning was a thrill. And you brought ED back, if only for a moment :)

    jackj 9:09 AM  


    Mazel tov.

    A five "AH-OO-gah!" extravaganza!!

    Cascokid 9:11 AM  

    Challenging, and really fun. I loved the variety. Sadly, It was a 90 minute, 18 google, 2 cheat DNF. After climbing out of half a dozen rabbit holes around the puzzle, I was buried in Hook's place. Not football, not basketball, not construction, I figured it was an obscure reference to CLAxu, some corner of Neverland that the Cap'n must have frequented. That left me with AxEd for lost and SuRe for nimble. Somehow, Sde meant for example. . . ?

    What they say us true. You cry alone.

    I got the SLJ vehicle, but was so bothered by the NE that I never went snake hunting and missed the big reveal.

    Still, hats off to the constructors. It was a delight until the blindness set in.

    joho 9:12 AM  

    Superior puzzle and a stunning debut!

    I thought this was hard while I was solving so appreciate @Rex's rating. But in reality I had only two writeovers at Bronx to BROWN and ALderS to ALAMOS.

    Really fun theme expertly delivered ... congrats to Loren and Jeff!

    quilter1 9:38 AM  

    I finished and I liked.

    Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

    Unknown 9:42 AM  

    Congrats to @lms!

    I felt pretty much the same as Rex, and would never expect him to withhold criticism because of who the constructors are. And were I a constructor, I would not want him to. Though this wasn't my favorite, I am impressed by your achievement. I saw SNAKES ON A PLANE on DVD with my brother-in-law, who had already seen it. He gave hysterical running commentary through the whole thing and it was two of the hardest laughing hours I have ever spent! I love remembering it.

    Jonathan 9:43 AM  

    Ok, I guess I'll be the one to say it: At no point in this puzzle is the phrase "snakes on a plane" graphically depicted. You know what phrase actually appears four times? "Snake on a plane." One snake. Asp. This is disappointing.

    Carola 9:54 AM  

    My SPAWN and husband-MATEY are still asleep, so I enjoyed the quiet minutes with this puzzle before all the MIXIN' and bakin' gets underway, although it was a story of my BEING repeatedly PSYCHed out. Started out wrong with "non" instead of PAS, was sure of "Scion," misspelled ORaBI, thought KLAXONS started with a c and that the collared ones would be dogs at obedience school. So, PAS facile pour moi, but I NOT give up!

    After sorting out the eastern half and the reveal, I finally saw the ASPs ABOVE the PLANEs, and that got me JET and allowed me to crawl back up the west coast to the top where the light finally dawned on ODE, AD HOC, and PAS. But alas, coming here I see I DNF - had the same Int error as @John Child and @Tita.

    Loved the wit of the theme, the clever cluing, and the beautiful X-words! I'm seeing PYREX as a nod to all the Thanksgiving hotdishes (as we say in WI) that will be appearing on tables today.

    @loren - It was great to SEE YA at the top of the puzzle! Congratulations!

    jberg 9:54 AM  

    As several said, kind of frustrating until I saw the theme - from the revealer, in my case -- and then I really appreciated it. Plus, I learned that Mort SAHL was Canadian, and what Los ALAMOS was named for. Now if only there really were those ELMs shading our streets I'd be totally happy.

    Nice work, Loren and Jeff -- and welcome back, @Evil Doug and @jackj, haven't seen either of you for some time - hope you'll stick around!

    "Oh for a beaker full of the warm South" on this cold Thanksgiving Day.

    AliasZ 9:57 AM  
    This comment has been removed by the author.
    AliasZ 10:02 AM  

    @LMS, congratulations on your funny, clever Thanksgiving Day debut in the NYT.

    I have one question though. Did it ever occur to you or Jeff to make 4A ASPS as a snazzy revealer of the theme? The clue could have read something like "Critters hidden around the puzzle, located appropriately as suggested by 61A."

    INOT only liked, I loved this puzzle despite a number of crosswordese entries like ASSNS (I always think of assassins) and others @Rex pointed out, then two AA acronyms: RIAA, NAACP (missing NCAA, MPAA and a few others, I am sure). However, these abbr.'s and shorties did not bother me a bit during solving, which means the toughened-up cluing had its desired effect. I also wish 40A were ASPerse instead of ASPIRES.

    I had a BALL with this one, and it also sent me off on a tangent.

    ASPart of ChristmASPresents, I received the movies "The ASPhalt Jungle,""2001: ASPace Odyssey," a movie about a blASPhemous mad monk with Christopher Lee, aptly titled "RASPutin: The Mad Monk," and one about the life in the diASPora whose title I forget. I also received the ThomASPaine book "Common Sense," trips to the CASPian Sea and to ASPen CO, and ASPunky puppy from the local ASPCA. For ASPecial dinner I had ASParagus, rASPberries and a bananASPlit. Needless to say, I was exASPerated, gASPing for air, and needed an ASPirator to avoid ASPhyxiation. I also took some ASPirin to relieve the headache. I put a teASPoon of ASPartame in my half-caf latte. My guests were CASPer the Friendly Ghost and one of my WASP friends.

    If you grASP a serious ASPect of this little narrative, you are a better (wo)man than I. Now it's time to step on my gASPedal and get outta here before you have a chance to cast ASPersions on my character.

    Happy Thanksgiving Day to all.

    JFC 10:07 AM  

    Congratulations, Loren. That's a wonderful achievement! Happy Thanksgiving to all who come here and Happy Hanukkah to the Jewish bloggers....


    Davidph 10:08 AM  

    I enjoyed this solve. Lots of fresh answers and clever clues. I like learning little tidbits such as ALAMO is a kind of tree.


    Congrats to the constructors!

    Anonymous 10:14 AM  

    Interesting. Never noticed the theme, but I loved the clue for HANGGLIDER. Felt like the puzzle was a slog, but I smoked in half my average time for Thurs. Go figure. Time for some turkey!

    Bob Kerfuffle 10:23 AM  

    Clever idea, fine puzzle.

    Had to post-solve Google 1A, not in my crosswordese French vocab.

    I could no more objectively critique an lms puzzle than I could an ACME puzz.

    (But he says, in the faintest whisper, "I still look for a rebus on Thursday.")

    Happy holidays to all!

    dk 10:23 AM  

    Happy t day and thank you Loren and Jeff. Puzzle was turkeyish but a fun solve. Also very proud of Loren.

    ** (2 Stars) looking forward to Loren's solo.

    Off to shoot barbies. We dig up the Turkey and a Goose in about 6 hours. Gobble gobble.

    Anonymous 10:25 AM  

    I really loved this puzzle--for some reason the snakes jumped out at me right away...

    r.alphbunker 10:29 AM  


    I agree that it doesn't adder up. Loren is one of the reasons why this blog is a success. Why not acknowledge that up front.

    GILL I. 10:31 AM  

    CONGRATULATIONS Loren!!!!! Please add another "loved" to @Tita's remarks.
    Even thought I found this really hard, all the YX's made me smile.
    I can't believe I didn't notice the ASP above the planes...I hate when that happens!! I did notice the ESPY/SPRY HANA/IPANA and PAWN/SPAWN and I would make up a story for you or draw a picture but I'm the piewoman this year so I must go roll out the dough.
    Happy Thanksgiving to all and @jackj I've missed you too....

    retired_chemist 10:32 AM  

    Quick reaction: Liked it, didn't love it. Didn't see the theme until I came here. Hand up for BRonX BOMBER first, sASh before HASP, and for RIAA being a WTF.

    But the fill is generally OK. As yesterday, mostly good but Rex has a point that some is not so.

    Happy Thanksgiving and Hanukkah all. Special thanks to our constructors, Ms. Smith and Mr. Chen.

    Masked and AnonymoUs 10:39 AM  

    Happy Thanksgiving mornin, y'all!

    Hey! My fave constructors! And you guys brought along schlock movies! How thoughtful! You're welcome here anytime.

    Come on in and make yerselves comfortable. You are a little early, so pardon me if I run off to finish up the vacuumin, now and then...

    Let's talk shop early, so we won't bore the other guests, at the dinner table...

    I've always thought the weeject trifecta for a puz would be to have IRR, ERS, and PAS together, all in one grid. What's that? Ahar, Muse says EEW.

    Well, with such a fine construction team, ole M&A can sit back, relax, and feast on a veritable cornUcopia of his fave letter, nicht wahr? Awkward silence ensues. We change the subject, and chat about klaxons and sandbags and other crazy stuff for quite a spell...

    Eventually, it's time to hitch up the feedbucket. The homemade wine starts flowin, and everyone loosens up. Jeff favors us with pewit imitations. One interestin variation has a definite ORIBI influence. PAS the Bruselprout, please. Is that there a flea? YANG! ...

    PAS the t-bird, please. Want the SAPPORO sauce with that? Ohhhh, Muse... never mind, we'll vacuum that up, later...
    A toast! To BOMBERS! and the SEMINARY! har

    A fun time was had by all. Let's do it all again soon. Come back every day-um holiday, you two... Bring U along next time, if you can... And Evil Duck, too!!


    Rob C 10:52 AM  

    Med/Chal Thurs for me. Struggled on the bottom - EwW for EEW and addIN for MIX IN originally made it tough to sort out for a while.

    CONGRATS LMS! And it sounds like you have more in the hopper co-constructed with acme. Can't wait for that one.



    from wiki - "The Sioux Wars were a series of conflicts between the United States and various subgroups of the Sioux people that occurred in the later half of the 19th century. The earliest conflict came in 1854 when a fight broke out at Fort Laramie in Wyoming, when Sioux warriors killed several American soldiers in the Grattan Massacre, and the final came in 1890 during the Ghost Dance War."

    "The Great Sioux War refers to series of conflicts from 1876 to 1877 involving the Lakota Sioux and Northern Cheyenne tribes."

    Little Bighorn was one of The Great Sioux War conflicts. So, it seems you're right, the clue seems to be just a bit off as it was one battle in one of the Sioux Wars, not a Sioux War itself.

    The Bard 11:01 AM  

    I commend this kind submission.
    (King Henry VI, part II ,Act V, scene I)

    Antony and Cleopatra , Act V, scene II

    CLEOPATRA: This proves me base:
    If she first meet the curled Antony,
    He'll make demand of her, and spend that kiss
    Which is my heaven to have. Come, thou
    mortal wretch,

    [To an asp, which she applies to her breast]

    With thy sharp teeth this knot intrinsicate
    Of life at once untie: poor venomous fool
    Be angry, and dispatch. O, couldst thou speak,
    That I might hear thee call great Caesar ass

    CHARMIAN: O eastern star!

    CLEOPATRA: Peace, peace!
    Dost thou not see my baby at my breast,
    That sucks the nurse asleep?

    CHARMIAN: O, break! O, break!

    CLEOPATRA: As sweet as balm, as soft as air, as gentle,--
    O Antony!--Nay, I will take thee too.

    [Applying another asp to her arm]

    What should I stay--


    mac 11:02 AM  

    Very clever puzzle! Challenging for me, I got mired in the South for a while, never saw that film and am afraid to see it.

    Some things I did not know but luckily got through crosses: RIAA, Biko, Styx as a name. Tried so hard to work Eton into 41D, but seminary is a beautiful word.
    Calyx is great, low man's clue also.

    So thankful for this blog without which I probably would still be looking for the theme…..

    Excellent work, Loren and Jeff!

    Now back to my mixin'.

    mac 11:04 AM  

    Happy thanksgiving!

    jazzmanchgo 11:12 AM  

    I did manage to complete the puzzle, but . . . what are "PA"s? (Or is it some kind of acronym -- "P.A.S."??)

    Steve J 11:12 AM  

    @Loren: I had never noticed that people don't drop the g in "anything" and "everything" (I've definitely heard people drop it in BEING). I can't think of a good phonetic reason why that is. Pure speculation: those can never be used as verbs, and the g-dropping tends to happen when -ing words are used as verbs (and carries over when they become nouns).

    Anyway, now you're going to have me checking for dropped G's on those words constantly.

    @Carola: I kept thinking dog obedience school for 41D too.

    @AliasZ: Interesting idea on switching up 4A to help contribute to the theme. Doing that at 4A, though, would have run the risk of giving things away too quickly, I think, since there's a good chance that it will fill in too early in the puzzle. I do wonder if something like that would have helped those of us who missed the snakes and their position on the planes until after the puzzle was done.

    Off to start baking. I'm apparently contributing all the bread for the meal (which I do with several other friends without family in the area): Bread dough is currently rising, and other bread is drying out for the stuffing. It's Dungeness crab season here in San Francisco, so I'm experimenting with using that in the stuffing (well, dressing, since it's not going in the bird) instead of my usual sausage or other pork.

    Hope everyone enjoys whatever foods they find on their tables and has a great holiday.

    Steve J 11:15 AM  

    @jazzmanchgo: PAS (not plural; singular word pronounced similarly to "pa") is French for "not". c

    lawprof 11:17 AM  

    Didn't read the by-line until after I'd finished this lovely puzzle. So I knew I liked it even before I learned that one of the constructors was one of our own, whose invariably upbeat commentaries remind us that this is all for fun. Congratulations and thanks to Loren and Jeff.

    No turkey for us. We have our daughter (who's allergic to poultry) and her family over. So the alternative for the last few years has been a mixed grill: flank steak, pork tenderloin; Italian sausages. Everything else traditional: sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pies. Turns out to be much, much easier than fixing a turkey. But whatever's on your table, enjoy.

    ArtO 11:29 AM  

    Didn't remember SNAKES and couldn't get past UGH for EEW in the SW so DNF.

    Despite some crud this was a really clever, tough Thursday. Congrats on a terrific debut.

    John V 11:39 AM  

    Congrats, Loren! Fun theme, very challenging, still a work on progress on this glorious, busy day.

    Jeff is the world's greatest tutor, is what I'm saying.

    Ellen S 11:47 AM  

    good job Loren and Jeff, and congrats on luring @Evil back, if only for one word! When I saw the byline I worried because Loren you always do those incredibly clever riffs on the puzzle answers. In fact I did find the puzzle tough, but I only say challenging when even cheating doesn't get me through it and I got through this with only one cheat. (That was asking for the letter a in ASPIRE, but even with that it it took me a long time to get the word.)

    I did this in Puzzazz, which I find an excellent app except for one thing. As far as I can tell you can only erase one letter at a time, and I did a lot of erasing whole words some of them over and over.

    I got BIKO and CALYX right away and knew they were correct and left them in, also got POTS right away and erased it many times before getting enough crosses to know I had been right in the first place.

    Divinity before SEMINARY; for a long time I wanted it to have something to do with an Eton collar.

    I'm thankful for this blog and all the great folks I've met here.

    M and Also 11:58 AM  

    Congrats on yer debut, @Muse.

    Droppin G's comes more natural-like on yer verbs.
    There was a pretty good rock group, OUAT, called The Human Beinz, tho. Did "Nobody But Me", I think.

    PAX on Earth, good will toward MNO. and U.
    Hopin all them asps make it home safe for the holidays.


    Evan 11:59 AM  

    Congrats on the debut, Loren. You and Jeff were really pulling my heartstrings just for putting in SNAKES ON A PLANE. To this day, that remains the most enjoyable movie-watching experience I've ever had, not because of how great the movie was (it wasn't), but the crowd. I saw it with a full house of college-aged students on opening night at midnight in Berkeley, California. We cracked wise, shouted stuff at the screen, and exploded in applause when Samuel L. Jackson said his iconic line from Rex's video clip.

    I found this puzzle to be in the medium range, but I really slowed down by the end as I tried to work out the LOW MAN/SANDBAG/BIKO/ORIBI nexus, as well as pretty much everything in the due east section. In fact, I got the revealer first before even understanding how it worked for a pretty long time, which is doubly my fault because Loren tipped me off many months ago that this was going to be a snake-related theme. Even with inside info I still had trouble.

    Okay. So, while I loved the theme revealer, I was less enthused by the fill as others have pointed out -- and for the record, am in complete agreement with @Susan McConnell re: Rex's commentary. LOW MAN felt a little shaky to me as an entry. I know the full phrase "low man on the totem pole," I just don't know if the term LOW MAN stands on its own -- sorta like FEW WORDS as a singular entry in the phrase "a man of few words."

    But anyhow, having your debut puzzle today is a great Thanksgiving Day present. I look forward to more from you.

    Lewis 12:03 PM  

    Rex used "lovely" to describe one answer; that was the word that rang in my head after completing the puzzle. "This is a lovely puzzle!" I exclaimed mentally.

    Why? The cluing had spark, the theme helped me fill in some squares, and this puzzle had that x-factor that isn't often found. Some puzzles just leave me feeling happy, and when they leave me feeling so good, stuff like grid gruel are okay -- necessary pawns bolstering a beautiful result.

    Thanks, L and J. A great lead-in to the holiday.

    AliasZ 12:14 PM  

    Klaxon is a trademark for a brand of electromechanical horn. Mainly used on automobiles, trains and ships, KLAXONS produce an easily-identifiable sound often transcribed onomatopoeiacally in English as "awooga" or "ah-oo-gah". American inventor Miller Reese Hutchison patented the mechanism in 1908. The Lovell-McConnell Manufacturing Co. of Newark, NJ bought the rights to the device, whose founder Franklyn Hallett Lovell Jr. coined the name klaxon from the Ancient Greek verb klazō, "to shriek." (from Wikipedia)

    OOO-gah was also the easily-recognizable sound of all hand-operated early car horns with the rubber squeeze bulb, especially the Fords (Models T & A).

    OOO-gah OOO-gah boom tweet = Ford Thunderbird.

    To segue from the ridiculous to the sublime, this most American of all American holidays reminds me of a Shaker song called Simple Gifts, written and composed in 1848 by Elder Joseph Brackett. The Shakers are a religious sect founded on the teachings of Ann Lee (1736-1784).

    'Tis the gift to be simple,'tis the gift to be free,
    'Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,

    And when we find ourselves in the place just right,
    'Twill be in the valley of love and delight.

    When true simplicity is gained,
    To bow and to bend we shan't be ashamed,

    To turn, turn will be our delight,
    Till by turning, turning we come 'round right.

    Aaron Copland composed the ballet Appalachian Spring in 1944 on a commission from choreographer Martha Graham, and later rearranged it as an orchestral suite. Its seventh movement is based on this Shaker song.

    Today is the time to give thanks for all the simple gifts our life has given us through these so many decades.

    Bird 12:24 PM  

    Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

    Congrats to Loren and Jeff.

    Too bad I wasn't on the same wavelength, otherwise I would have finished it. Too many proper nouns, abbrs. (abbr.s?) and stuff I didn't know or couldn't see.

    The West Side was a mess - I had CB radios and CORPS, which out SMARTed me. YOOHOO held me up (sorry, bad pun) for a while as well.

    I was also trying to think how to fit in some kind of obedience school at 41D.

    I give thanks for my and my family's health.


    Unknown 12:33 PM  

    For me, it was a thrill seeing the byline, and couldn't wait to get to the comments. Then, it was jarring for RP not to do a shout out, regardless of the tepid review. It's not too late, you know...

    Great, tough, Thursday puzzle!!

    Thanks lms and jc!

    Questinia 12:45 PM  

    I love ASP with SOYA stuffing! But here we traditionally serve it with lingonberries...

    Fun comment @ acme.

    Found this on the tough side as I never heard of the movie, the toothpaste; had the hairstylist ORIBe as the antelope. KLAXON pulled me through, however, as did the realization that flying machines were involved.. but like many others needed to come here to see the unifying principle of the revealer.

    I echo @dk re looking forward to a Muse solo. I'd love a puzzle filled with abbreviations, acronyms and plurals! Question: is it UNESCOS or UNESCOES?

    Thank-you Loren and Jeff!

    ~~Happy Thanksgiving to us all~~

    Loren Muse Smith 12:46 PM  

    Remember when Jennifer Lawrence fell on the way up to accept her Oscar, and she said something like, "You're just being nice to me because I fell."

    I *know* this had a ton of crud (all my doing, I'm sure) and am extremely grateful to Rex for not letting me have it with both barrels.

    I appreciate the nice words. Hopefully my future endeavors will be cleaner.

    @Steve J and @M&A - the verb theory doesn't work because we do "drop the g" in something and nothing.

    But the question stands - do we do it on BEING? Also, I stood and listened to a person with a very, very country accent say inning without dropping the g. I acted like I hadn't heard and had her repeat it two more times. Inning all three times.

    Anonymous 1:12 PM  

    Sports writers have a propensity to give catchy names to teams, particularly in pro football. Witness the former LA Rams " Fearsome Foursome " and Pittsburgh,s "Steel Curtain " . Hence, a New York sports writer's appellation for the NY Jets whose uniforms are green in color!

    Sandy K 1:22 PM  

    Very clever and enjoyable solve made even more exciting by seeing @Loren's name at the top!

    Loved SNAKES ON A PLANE, and didn't notice the clever construction of ASP above the BOMBER, GLIDER, and JET right away- then the aha moment..very cool!

    Congrats to @LMS and Jeff Chen!

    Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Hanukkah- or for those celebrating both, Happy Thanksgivukkah! Enjoy you Menurkey...

    Steve J 1:40 PM  
    This comment has been removed by the author.
    Steve J 1:44 PM  

    @Loren: Oh yea, "something" and "nothing" put paid to the verb theory. I'm stumped now on why "anything" and "everything" don't get the dropped-g treatment.

    As far as bein': It's definitely out there, but It ain't easy. (It's actually a pretty common truncation, in my experience. Think especially of non-standard dialects that use constructions like "he being" instead of "he is"; the G is pretty much universally dropped.)

    Enough grammar geekery for me today. Back to football and baking.

    M and A Help Desk 1:49 PM  

    U have somethin there, all right. Wrong again, M&A breath. I hear nothin around these parts, all the time...

    Extensive essay on BEIN(g) ensues.

    1. "Scuse me fer bein so belchy today". Hear it all the time, at our local town cafe, here in Mandaville. But in that case, it is yer verb-usage case.

    2. "I am a human bein". Now, if U came into our cafe and announced that, my friend Erul (the talkative one of the group) would probbly reply "hey, cmon in and sit a spell, stranger! Us all is the town's human laugh in. Are y'all from France?"

    3. Results may vary, I suspect, dependin on yer area of the country. West Virginia has gotta be different from Oklahoma. Or Louisiana. Or Mississip.

    4. In our neck of the woods, the phrase "Human Bein(g)" plumb don't come up often enough in casual conversation to be put to much of a test. And when U ask folks simply "how do you say human being?", you'll probably get back an exact match, cuz they'll get all self conscious on yah, and aim to please...
    Unless U ask Erul. He'd likely reply "Is this here a trick question?", or somesuch. Erul is real partial to answerin a question with a question.

    5. Last, and most critical: don't overdo yer G-droppin speech. Drop a G off STUNG, and you'll just plain confuse most human beinz.

    Hope that helps.
    Again, primo debut puz. Keep yer U count up.

    Just bein yer
    M&A Help Desk

    Nameless 2:11 PM  

    Bit of trivia . . .

    Hanukkah has not been on the same day as Thanksgiving since 1888 and will not be on the same day as Thanksgiving for another 78,000 years. Doh!

    I wonder what it will be like. Will turkeys be talkin' and rebellin'? Will we all be getting' along and liven' in peace?

    Great puz lms and jc

    Sorry For Four 2:18 PM  

    @Acme: I meant BO and GI from martial arts; the staff and uniform both have no real equivalent and are used in American DOOS everywhere so far as I know. Good to know they accept BO now!
    @LMS: I said the phrase "human being" in the West North Carolina accent of my childhood just now (usually keep it well hidden) and the word being, rather than changing to "bein'", changed to something resembling "bing."
    Back to the kitchen! happy thanksgiving!

    Outlaw M and A 2:19 PM  

    Anyone would probably feel silly, sayin "in in", instead of inning.

    Loren Muse Smith 2:33 PM  

    @AliasZ - I meant to tell you how much I enjoyed your story! I especially liked teASPoon. You're really good at that.

    @M&A and @Steve J - yep - I would definitely say, say quite often in fact, "Sorry I'm bein' so magnificently belchy." So there's that.

    And you're right. You just cannot ask someone how s/he pronounces a word. Suspicious alarm bells start going off, and you hardly ever get a natural answer. You just have to listen to people with perked up ears.

    I wonder if it's a stress thing:

    Her beesting the wasp dealt her landed her in the hospital.

    Her beastin' the test landed her on the dean's list.

    And for some reason, the thing in everything and anything is stressed whereas in something and nothing is for some reason not stressed?

    ahimsa 3:21 PM  

    Loved it! Congrats to Loren Muse Smith for the debut and kudos again to Jeff Chen.

    Like @Rex, I also was wondering about the theme until the end. But for me not figuring out the theme early is a good thing!

    This was easier than most Thursdays but still plenty hard enough to put up a bit of a struggle. If I had not been doing crosswords on a regular basis I would have been completely flummoxed (IPANA, ORIBI, CALYX, ...)

    As for the theme, I saw the planes part first, even before the reveal, but somehow the ASP part eluded me until the very end after I was done. I had to go back and search -- where are the snakes? Oh! So cute!

    Noam D. Elkies 3:24 PM  

    Congratulations on the debut. It's a good thing that the J of 40D:AJA is part of the theme, else it would be a Natick crossing (42A could also end with MET or NET for all I know of it). Alas square 24 was not part of the theme, and I guessed wrong because I can never remember if it's an 24D:ORIBI or an uribi (I see that the scientific name "ourebia ourebi" can't make up its mind either), and certainly didn't know 23A:BIKO from Biku. I liked the paired 22D:YO_HO_HO / 32D:MATEY clues, though it's still almost 60000 years till Hanukkarrrrr :-) Chappy Chanksgiving!


    Gertrude Stein 3:26 PM  

    @lms - you say, "And for some reason, the thing in everything and anything is stressed whereas in something and nothing is for some reason not stressed?"

    There is no such word as "nothing. There are two words "no thing" or one worth "nuth-in."


    wreck 3:35 PM  
    This comment has been removed by the author.
    LaneB 3:45 PM  

    Wonderful puzzle, Loren [and Jeff] It did help me [1]to be old, [2] a sports enthusiast and [3] sort of a movie buff, although I confess to not seeing the theme until the entire thing was done. Lovely clues for LOWMAN, MATEY/YOHOHO and ALAMOS. Usually when I see Jeff's name associated with a puzzle, I throw in the towel. But the LMS tag made me soldier on, and I'm pleased to have finished with only some confirming Google help. Again, great job!

    wreck 4:24 PM  

    I really enjoyed it! When I saw the by-line, It sparked a special interest. Congratulations on your NYT debut!! I always seem to be the opposite of the veterans here, I solved this faster than my usual Thursday times. I saw the "planes" in the puzzle, but didn't see "asp" until I came here.

    sanfranman59 4:50 PM  

    Midday report of relative difficulty (see my 8/1/2009 post for an explanation of my method and my 10/15/2012 post for an explanation of a tweak to my method):

    All solvers (median solve time, average for day of week, ratio, percentile, rating)

    Thu 17:34, 17:09, 1.02, 59%, Medium

    Top 100 solvers

    Thu 9:54, 9:56, 1.00, 47%, Medium

    Happy Thanksgiving to all and congrats to Loren on the byline.

    Z 7:16 PM  

    Did this early and then had to read 80+ comments, so the puzzle is a little foggy in my post-turkey, post-wine, post-"those aren't the Lions I remember" mind. Crux has me at 37 minutes, so definitely on the challenging side for a Thursday. I did not even notice the constructors names until I came here, and had to be social soon after finishing, so got the ASP only after coming here.

    Nice job, even though you crushed M&A's heart by having four Xes and only one U.

    sanfranman59 10:02 PM  

    This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 8/1/2009 post for an explanation and my 10/15/2012 post for an explanation of a tweak I've made to my method. In a nutshell, the higher the ratio, the higher this week's median solve time is relative to the average for the corresponding day of the week.

    All solvers (this week's median solve time, average for day of week, ratio, percentile, rating)

    Mon 6:29, 6:07, 1.06, 79%, Medium-Challenging
    Tue 9:06, 8:12, 1.11, 76%, Medium-Challenging
    Wed 8:59, 9:44, 0.92, 31%, Easy-Medium
    Thu 17:52, 17:14, 1.04, 60%, Medium

    Top 100 solvers

    Mon 4:08, 3:46, 1.10, 85%, Challenging
    Tue 5:36, 5:01, 1.12, 79%, Medium-Challenging
    Wed 5:28, 5:37, 0.97, 42%, Medium
    Thu 9:52, 9:56, 0.99, 47%, Medium

    Noam D. Elkies 10:04 PM  

    Forgot to mention: there's nothing wrong with 34A:HANG_GLIDER being the only theme entry with a "?" clue, provided that (as is the case here) the "?" is only to alert the solver to a punny clue. It would be a problem if the "?" were there to excuse a contrived (a.k.a. "wacky") entry when the other theme entries were cromulent words or phrases; but "hang glider" is as kosher as the others (indeed it's already been used once before for a completely different theme [Monday, 24 April 1995]).


    Joe The Juggler 10:17 PM  

    "My wife and I couldn't believe that EW isn't acceptable in Scrabble, likewise BO and GI"

    BO is in both the OSPD and the Scrabble TWL. So is the name of the karate costume, but it's spelled GHI or GHEE.

    Unknown 8:41 AM  

    Congratulations Loren and Jeff!

    Another bit of trivia. The battle of the Little Bighorn was fought among a grove of Cottonwood rrees. Had no idea that they were called Alamos. So two tragic battles with no survivors (save one indian scout) can both be related by the word Cottonwood.

    But I also see from Texas Magazine that when Spanish missionaries came to the spot in central Texas where they would locate the Alamo mission, they were struck by the lushness of the land and the number of cottonwood trees growing nearby along the San Antonio River. The Spanish word for “poplar tree” is alamo and the cottonwood is also known as a poplar, hence the name.

    Fun facts?

    ahimsa 6:51 PM  

    @Joe the Juggler, GHEE is a Karate costume? I only know GHEE as a type of clarified butter used in Indian cooking.

    J.aussiegirl 11:06 AM  

    Wow, I thought the puzzle was all about snakes!! Brown, glider(?), New Yor(kite), .... Therefore DNF as I couldn't see past my 35D lineup being scrutinized at the airport. So the middle-east was messy but, still, my snakes were on the plane. Our Thanksgiving was a month before yours, and now Christmas and New Year has passed as well, so references to feasts past and present has us in remembrance mode. Happy to read this blog!

    spacecraft 11:30 AM  

    Wow, I only grASPed the rudimentary PLANE part of the theme. Even noticed all the ASP-sounding words, but never put that together with SNAKES till I came here. Duh! Also, never noticed that they all were situated "ON" their respective aircraft. Double-duh! It almost makes me feel as if I DNF, but I did fill the grid in correctly sans help, so...finished.

    With all this theme density--please include position as part of the density--and with the fabulously Scrabbly likes of CALYX and KLAXON, there is bound to be fill hell to pay. There was, but it coulda been a lot worse. I think this was a tour de force(d) debut for one of our own, and I offer congrats and a tip o' the spacecraft hat. You go, girl!

    DMG 1:48 PM  

    A DNF this early in the year! Hope it's not a forecast of things to come. I just couldn't parse the midwest, partly due to no IPhone, spelling the horn cLAXON, and never having heard of Gang Green. On the other hand, given all the aircraft, I should have been able to deduce JET! Noticed the "rhyming", but never saw the ASPS until RP sent me looking for them! On to tomorrow...

    Solving in Seattle 1:53 PM  

    Loren & Jeff, great job!

    Let me join voices with @Q and say that, as a human bein' I don't mind the ASSNS, ISPS or NAACPs. They're part of cws. Really liked EEW sitting over the reveal.

    34A was really well clued. Thought electrical current and kept tryin' to think of an Edison or Tessla or Franklin to stick in there.

    @Wes D, thanks for your post re: the ALAMO and cottonwoods. Interestin' stuff. There was an article a year or so back in the Seattle Times about cottonwood trees and how they propagated themselves across the country. They are messy, though.

    Like @Spacey, I didn't see the ASPs on top of the "planes" until I came here. I kept tryin' to parse a specie of snake within the long acrosses. (Is that a word?)

    I did the upside down thingy at Blarney Castle and I'm still married.

    I wonder how I can get invited to @Law Prof's home next Thanksgivin'.

    PAX & PAS to y'all in 2014.

    Solving in Seattle 1:57 PM  

    scuse me, make that "Really liked EEW sittin' over the reveal."

    rain forest 5:24 PM  

    I guess @lms is not as borin' as the rest of us - she elicited a cameo appearance from @Evil Doug.

    Nice little puzzle. Saw the ASPs over the PLANES. Probably too much to ask to get a boa, cobra, viper, etc in there, but a lively effort.

    Agree that the film could hardly be called a cult classic, in the sense that Eating Raoul was/is.

    Dirigonzo 7:04 PM  

    I was close to quitting but I disn't want a DNF on LMS's debut so I persevered and finished the puzzle with a lucky guess at BIKO/ORIBI. I spotted the planes but the snakes remained hidden until I came here.

    Waxy in Montreal 7:06 PM  

    Great puzzle! Finally sussed it but only after being out of SYNC for too long with DIVINITY at 41D; also was in the MET rather than JET camp but didn't really matter as a Mr. AMA was fine by me as the film director.

    Embarrassing confession - not knowing that Mort Sahl was born here in Montreal! In fact, tried many other famous Canadian comedians (STEINBERG, CANDY, ACKROYD, MYERS, CARREY, SHORT, MORANIS, O'HARA) thinking a rebus was in play (it is Thursday) before the crosses provided SAHL. Doh!

    Didn't realize SNAKES ON A PLANE had achieved the status of a cult classic which also delayed the ETA for this one.


    CRESTfallen to learn that IPANA is no longer manufactured.

    Dirigonzo 8:21 PM  

    @Waxy -"CRESTfallen" - heh, heh. I don't miss Ipanana toothpaste as much as I miss Bucky Beaver.

    I'm pretty sure my capcha is the winning combination for this week's lotto - who wants to go in with me?

    Mary in Oregon 11:14 PM  

    From five weeks in the future here in syndi-land, I loved your snakey puzzle, Loren & Jeff! Very clever and fun from 1A to the end. I hope we are graced by more puzzles from you, Loren, and of course Jeff as well. Happy New Year to all! (It's January 2, 2014 here.)

    gueppe barre 11:22 PM  

    Took 8:15 - didn't get MNO until it was all in place - that was clever! Didn't see the movie, didn't even know it was a cult classic; ASP over the planes was some cute!

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